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Northwestern Mutual Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by
Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Why do you want to work in wealth management, and where would you like your career to take you?

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Northwestern Mutual Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Why do you want to work in wealth management, and where would you like your career to take you?

      The interviewer wants to know what stems your passion for a career in wealth management. Talk a bit about your history in the industry, how your post-secondary education propelled you into this career, or perhaps how your own experience with a Financial Advisor piqued your interest.

      Next, think about where you want to grow with Northwestern Mutual. Take a look at the natural career path, from the role you are currently interviewing for, and up a few steps. Do you have ambitions to step up with Northwestern Mutual and earn a title promotion? Discuss where you want your career to take you, being sure to show enthusiasm for potential job promotions and opportunity.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I obtained my masters' degree in finance thinking that I would be joining a corporate banking environment. That is until I met a seasoned financial investment advisor who shared with me her career path and successes. I loved the flexibility that she had in her career and that her income potential was never capped like mine would be in a corporate environment. It was history from there! Today, I would like to grow my career to include branch management or a regional position for Northwestern Mutual. "

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Growing up, my parents were always teaching me about planning for my financial future, so I believe the seed of interest was planted with me very early. I have a keen interest in making investment suggestions to help people create a sound financial plan. During university, I was the go-to person for other students who wanted to become involved in penny stocks, and from there, my interest flourished. As a recent finance graduate, I am ready to start my career as a junior advisor and work my way into a senior advisory role with Northwestern Mutual when the time is right."

  2. 2.

    What skills did you learn in your current role that will help you succeed at Northwestern Mutual?

      To answer this question successfully, it's a great idea to take a look back at the job posting or job description, and take note of the skills that Northwestern Mutual seems to request the most.

      Many job postings are repetitive, and you should be able to see which skills come up more than once or twice. Focus on those keywords when answering this question.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I have learned a great deal from my current organization, and have gained many valuable new skills. I noticed in the Northwestern Mutual job posting that you are seeking someone with solid results in cold calling, gaining referrals and networking. These are skills that I have worked very hard to master over the past few years. I make around 100 cold calls per week, and my referral rate is well above 40%; nearly double that of my co-workers. These are just some of the skills that will help me to succeed with Northwestern Mutual."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "During my internship, I learned a lot about the art of conversation and getting to know clients by asking the right questions and being unafraid to dig deeper. In your job posting, you mention looking for a junior advisor who is curious by nature, knows how to ask the best discovery questions, and is great with research. These are just some of the skills I have recently developed, and I am eager to apply them in this role with Northwestern Mutual."

  3. 3.

    How do you deal with client rejection or objections?

      Part of working in wealth management is sales and, what comes with sales, is facing rejection and objections regularly. Talk to the interviewer about any formal training you have in objection handling. Be prepared to discuss how you handle, and bounce back from, rejection.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I love the quote by Tom Hopkins that says, 'Begin always expecting good things to happen.' This quote encompasses my approach to sales and even client rejection. I know that my offering is better than the rest, and I stand behind my work and maintain integrity in everything that I do. The 'right' client for me is one that will see these qualities right away and be willing to hear me out, at the very least. When I hear the word 'no,' I understand 'not right now.' No is not forever, and I will continue to massage even the 'no' relationships until they turn into a yes!"

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "To be a successful professional in the wealth management industry, I must rely on my reputation, referrals from others, and professional follow up. For these reasons, no matter how a customer rejection might make me feel, I vow to remain professional. I am a positive person by nature, so I when rejection comes my way, I will ask more questions to see if I can find the true source of the objection."

  4. 4.

    As a Financial Advisor, your compensation is tied directly to your productivity. How do you feel about working in a highly commissioned role?

      Working on a commission-based position is not for everyone! Depending on the structure at Northwestern Mutual and the role you are taking on, you may have a base pay, work on a guarantee, or be completely reliant only on the commissions you earn as a Financial Advisor. The interviewer wants to see that you have confidence in your abilities and the strength of your portfolio.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I have worked in a commission-driven environment inside and outside of the wealth management industry. I have made a fantastic living doing so because I believe in my capabilities, I reach my goals, and I keep the promises that I make to myself and my clients."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Commission-driven environments are new to me; however, I like the idea that I earn money based on how hard I work. I am not afraid of hard work, so, for that reason, I believe I can flourish in a highly commissioned role."

  5. 5.

    Wealth management is an all encompassing term. How would you explain what we do at Northwestern Mutual to someone unfamiliar with our company?

      The term 'wealth management' can become fuzzy as there are many interpretations, along with a plethora of companies that offer wealth and financial investment services and products. The interviewer wants to see that you have conducted ample research on Northwestern Mutual. Briefly discuss what you understand Northwestern Mutual to do, in a way that anyone outside of the industry could follow.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "For someone who is not familiar with Northwestern Mutual or even the term wealth management, I would describe the services as services for the affluent that include financial planning, portfolio management, and investment guidance. From research, I understand that the top products offered at Northwestern Mutual include (A), (B), and (C) which fall into these categories."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "The easiest way to understand wealth management, and what you do at Northwestern Mutual is the structured management of money, for those who are affluent, conscious about making their money work for them and conscious of planning for life's milestones such as retirement."

  6. 6.

    Walk me through your education and how it relates to a career in wealth management.

      Your formal education and industry training might be on your resume; however, the interviewer would like you to dig deeper and bring this education to life for them by discussing how your education has prepared you for this job with Northwestern Mutual.

      If you have a finance-specific post-secondary degree, this answer will be straightforward for you. You can list completed coursework applicable to the products and services offered at Northwestern Mutual.

      If you do not have an applicable degree, it's time to think about what you learned at your highest levels of education and how that knowledge applies (or will apply) to your work. Some of these skills could include:

      - Proposal Writing
      - Public Speaking
      - Presentation Building
      - Independent Learning
      - Academic Research

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I earned my masters' degree in finance from ABC University. My degree exposed me to the financial world and specific topics such as bonds, econometrics, economics, corporate finance, governmental finance, individual investment, statistics, and portfolio management. I am grateful for my education and how well it has supported me in my career."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I will never be finished when it comes to my education and learning. Although my degree is in business administration, and not specifically finance, my school did prepare me very well for a career in wealth management. I took courses in economics, finance, management, and marketing; all important facets of wealth management."

  7. 7.

    Many Northwestern Mutual employees work as though they are independent business owners. Talk to me about what makes your entrepreneurial by nature.

      Although you may be employed by Northwestern Mutual, they want to ensure that you will be able to run your portfolio as though it is your own business. You may be responsible for building your client list, maintaining relationships, and adjusting your business to the ever-changing economic environments and trends that we face today.

      Share with the interviewer what an entrepreneurial mindset means to you, and how you go about exercising that mentality in your day to day work.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "For me, it's important that I continue to manage my portfolio of clients as though it's my own business. To do this, I pay for and attend industry conferences regularly. Rather than running straight to management, I reverse engineer problems and conduct research when an issue arises. Also, I take the opportunity to read as much as I can. I absorb myself wholly in topics related to finance, investments, and wealth management."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "An entrepreneurial mindset, to me, means to continually seek out new challenges and think about my career vision every day. Also, I am an exceptional problem solver. I think quickly and can get myself out of most situations by looking at the issue from various angles. I willingly accept feedback and criticism, then take that feedback to find new ways of working. These are just some of the entrepreneurial qualities I will bring to Northwestern Mutual and my clients."

  8. 8.

    Do you have experience preparing and delivering presentations?

      Part of what you may be expected to do at Northwestern Mutual could be planning, preparing, and delivering presentations to clients or other stakeholders. As most of us know, public speaking can be intimidating, causing fear in a lot of people. It's okay to be nervous; however, the interviewer wants to see that these nerves do not get in the way of your preparation and ability to communicate well.

      If applicable, discuss any courses or training you have taken, related to public speaking and presentations. Assure the interviewer that you are capable by reviewing times in the past when you have prepared and given presentations. Be sure to include details such as the topic, what the setting was, and how many people you presented to.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "In my current role, I regularly present to my clients, and my team of 20 advisors. To help me gain confidence as a speaker and presenter, I became a Toastmasters member two years ago. Since joining, I have taken courses such as 'The Better Speaker' series, 'Beginning Your Speech,' and 'Concluding Your Speech.' I also have training in PowerPoint, ensuring that my presentations are visually engaging."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "The bulk of my presentation experience comes from my time in university, where I prepared a variety of speeches and decks. I am a confident public speaker and was able to present to a group of my peers without any issues. I look forward to gaining even more experience in preparing and delivering professional presentations for clients and internal stakeholders."

  9. 9.

    Do you have any questions about this job, or working for Northwestern Mutual?

      Remember; it is not a badge of honor to say that you have no questions. Many candidates feel that by saying they do not have questions, they are showing that they have researched the job and fully comprehend the requirements. The right response is quite the opposite, however! By asking an insightful question, you are showing the interviewer full engagement and interest. Be sure that your queries are not mundane or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a question that is easily answered by simple research. Dig a bit deeper and ask questions such as:

      - How has Northwestern Mutual embraced FinTech advancements this year?
      - What is your favorite part about working for Northwestern Mutual?
      - What is Northwestern Mutual biggest goal in the next 12 months?
      - What do you see as the most significant change in the wealth management industry over the next two years?
      - Is there anything from my resume, or our conversation, that I can clarify for you?
      - Is there any reason why you would not hire me?

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I would like to ask if there is anything in my background on which you need clarification? Also, after discussing everything today, is there any particular reason why I would not be the best fit for this role with Northwestern Mutual?"

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Thank you for asking! A couple of questions come to mind. What do you see as the biggest challenge Northwestern Mutual will be facing in the next 12 months? Also, what is your employee turnover rate for this exact role? Lastly, could you tell me about the retention plan you currently have in place?"

  10. 10.

    Have you ever broken a non-disclosure, privacy, or confidentiality agreement?

      As a professional in the wealth management industry, you will be privy to a lot of sensitive or confidential information on your clients and Northwestern Mutual. It is highly likely that Northwestern Mutual will have confidentiality agreements for you to sign, and that you will be signing contracts with each client you onboard. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on confidentiality agreements, and assure them that you are honest and full of integrity.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I have signed NDA's and confidentiality agreements with my former employers as well as every client. As a professional in the wealth management industry, I also understand the importance of asking my clients to sign the same, so that everyone is protected. I hold myself accountable to confidentiality agreements and take pride in my honest character."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Before starting my internship, I was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, which made complete sense to me considering the information I was privy to throughout that time. Discretion has never been an issue for me, and I am happy to comply with any matters of confidence on behalf of Northwestern Mutual."

  11. 11.

    Name for me what you believe to be the biggest challenge facing the wealth management industry today.

      The interviewer at Northwestern Mutual wants to see that you've conducted ample research on the wealth management industry, and the challenges they face today. Whether you're a seasoned financial planning professional, fresh-faced in your first role outside of university, or even transitioning to a new industry, it's essential that you know the challenging side of the trade before joining.

      Share what you believe to be a significant challenge in the wealth management industry today, and why. Bonus points if you have a plan prepared on how you will overcome this challenge!

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I believe that one of the biggest challenges that the finance and wealth management industries face today is cybercrime in the form of data breaches and fraud. I recently read that financial cybercrime has increased by almost 500% over the last two years, causing a lot of distrust between customers and their financial service firms. To combat this, I always send a copy of our data security action plan and agreement to my customers, ensuring they have a full understanding of what my firm and I do, to keep their information safe and secure."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "From what I have read, and researched, FinTech companies are going to become even bigger and fiercer competitors to traditional financial and wealth management firms. I believe it's important that we begin to look at partnering with these tech-savvy startups rather than completely opposing them."

  12. 12.

    How will your skills complement Northwestern Mutual, if hired?

      The interviewer would like to know how your skills will benefit Northwestern Mutual, should they choose to hire you. This question is an excellent opportunity to highlight the hard skills and soft skills that make you a stand out candidate. Be sure that you answer aligns nicely with the values and mission statement of the organization.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I understand, after reading through your company website, that your mission is to help your clients achieve financial independence and freedom in retirement. My skills in retirement planning are strong, and my portfolio of work attests to this fact. I care about my clients in a way that they notice, which is why I gain such a high referral rate year after year. Lastly, because I have twelve years' experience in the wealth management industry, the time to train me will be significantly reduced, ensuring that I begin making a positive financial impact on Northwestern Mutual right away."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I am highly technical and analytical and pick up on numbers and systems very quickly. I have already crafted a 30, 60, and 90-day plan to exceed my training expectations and targets. The plan includes doubling up on my cold calls and booking more in-person client meetings. These activities, along with my speed and eagerness, will ensure that I make an impact on the Northwestern Mutual bottom-line as soon as possible."

  13. 13.

    How would you build a relationship with a client with an intimidating nature?

      In the wealth management industry, you will come across many personalities; some which may be intimidating or come off strong by nature. The interviewer wants to see that you have the smarts, and maturity to deal with strong personalities while maintaining control and professionalism. If you have come across a situation like this, discuss what you did to overcome any feelings of intimidation.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "Many of my clients are wealthy business professionals who are busy and do not have a lot of time to fuss around conversations. Sometimes they can come across as intimidating; however, I remind myself that they have a lot on the go, and I need to make every conversation count. I am proud of the work that I deliver, and I stand behind it, no matter how intimidating or brief a client can be."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Because of the vulnerable nature of wealth planning and management, I can understand how some people may feel intimidated by the whole thing; thus, coming across a bit harsh or intimidating themselves. If this situation occurs, I will focus less on how I am feeling and more about how they are feeling."

  14. 14.

    Financial Advisors with Northwestern Mutual who are active in their community see more success. Tell me about an organization or group outside of work with which you are involved.

      The interviewer would like to know if you are giving of your time and involved in your community. As a Financial Advisor, a lot of your success comes from networking and getting your name out into the community. Volunteer work and community involvement showcase strong character and selflessness, which are all qualities that make a great advisor. Talk to the interviewer about how you are active and involved outside of work.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I recently began sitting on the business commerce board for our city. Part of what we do it raise funds for local schools and other needs for the community, while also providing helpful resources to local business owners. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far and plan to dedicate myself more often to giving back to others."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Aside from being a Financial Advisor, I am also the parent of three young children. Their schools and sports groups are often running community fundraising events. This year I volunteered to be a school committee treasurer. It doesn't take up much of my time, but it does feel great to be an active parent helper."

  15. 15.

    How do you show potential clients that you are a trusted source for information on wealth management and other financial topics?

      It's crucial, as an advisor or professional in the wealth management industry, that you can instill a feeling of confidence in your clients. Your clients have to be able to trust that you are in-the-know and that you do everything you can to provide them with the most up-to-date information, protecting their money and helping them to grow their financial situation. Discuss what you do to show potential clients that you should be their go-to source when it comes to their financial future.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "For me, as a wealth management professional, it's most important that I show my clients the value they would receive from working with me, long before they officially hire me. Every quarter, I provide my clients, and prospects alike, with an in-depth market report. I research and write the report myself, ensuring that I am a thought leader and someone they can trust. If big news comes out, I aim to be the first person in the inbox, offering them tips and tricks on how to max out their investments."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Showing that I am with them every step of the way is crucial. I will give reading recommendations to my prospective clients and do everything I can to empower them. When a potential client sees that I am looking out for them, even when they haven't committed to working with me yet, I bring trust and value to the equation."

  16. 16.

    Do you prefer to work independently, or with partners?

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  17. 17.

    This role with Northwestern Mutual is very independent. How do you prospect for new customers?

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  18. 18.

    As a wealth management professional, have you ever been asked to act unethically? If so, what did you do?

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  19. 19.

    Northwestern Mutual is client-centric. How do you continually strengthen relationships with your exciting client base?

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  20. 20.

    In an initial client meeting, how do you first assess a client's financial position?

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  21. 21.

    How do you stay current on developments and trends in wealth management?

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  22. 22.

    How would you explain mutual funds to someone unfamiliar with the concept?

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  23. 23.

    Tell me about the systems and tools that you lean on to do your job.

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  24. 24.

    Do you have your Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation? If not, is this something you would like to achieve?

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  25. 25.

    Analytical skills are critical to success as a Financial Advisor. In which ways are you analytically minded?

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  26. 26.

    Which factors do you believe most impact the growth of the wealth management industry?

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  27. 27.

    When you suffer a setback in your portfolio, how does that emotionally affect you?

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  28. 28.

    Would you cold call for a year if it meant you had a steady client list afterward?

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  29. 29.

    Do you have a personal or professional mission statement?

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  30. 30.

    What are your pay expectations for this role?

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